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Posts tagged ‘pregnancy’

Terrifying wainscoting

Hindsight has imbued The Great House-Hunt with heroic and epic proportions. When realism catches up, I can acknowledge how quickly and relatively painlessly we acquired a house.

One of the most distressing things about the frequent trips to Oamaru (all two of them) – apart from the WWII documentaries over breakfast, the prolonged psychological exposure to RE Agents, the terrifying wainscoting, and the ever-present fear that it was all futile and we were going to end up homeless and I’d have to give birth under a bridge – was that The Rise of the Asset was completely overlooked.

Being fully gestational is so exciting that I resent any time not productively spent feeling incredibly blessed, excited and/or clever (honestly: being knocked up makes me feel like a GENIUS, despite all evidence to the contrary involving numerous teenagers demonstrating conclusively that it has more to do with stupidity and/or stunning quantities of alcohol). Although I feel satisfied in living a full complete life, pregnancy is undoubtedly the closest I’ve ever been to a genuine miracle.

During those trips to Oamaru, there were whole MINUTES where I completely forgot I was pregnant. Until I tried to leap over fences, or caught myself stealing food off other peoples’ plates, or assessing railway bridges for exposure to draughts. Which are generally not the aspects of pregnancy upon which I prefer to focus.

Now that we’re home – when we’re not dealing with lawyers, booking containers, performing extreme weeding, sourcing boxes, packing, and selling fishing boats – it’s all about The Asset again.

For a long time I hadn’t been sure whether what I felt was The Asset exploring the boundaries, or pickles negotiating the dangerous bends of my digestive system. But recently there’s been no doubt. I’ve sometimes wondered whether The Asset has a bouncy castle in there, or a squash racquet and ball. In fact, the little guy has been extremely active since the start of the Rugby World Cup. Coincidence? I think not. This is, after all, a Kiwi baby.

The other evening, I was sitting on the couch when the prodding got so extreme I wondered whether the effects might be visible to the naked eye. Although I felt a bit foolish – I’m just into the 24th week, which was surely way too early to visibly detect movement – I pulled up my sweater and stared intently at the Homewrecker.

Next thing, my whole belly did a Mexican wave.

“It was AMAZING!” I gabbled to Husband later. “Possibly the most incredible thing I’ve ever seen! It was like . . . like . . . like it’s ALIVE in there!”

“Er, Sweetie,” said Andrew gently, so as not to startle or alarm the pregnant lady. “It IS.”

Unfortunately, Husband has yet to witness the phenomenon. He’s too impatient to sit staring at the Homewrecker for longer than it takes to demand a cup of coffee; and The Asset refuses to perform on demand. Yet.

In any case, Andrew’s presence appears to have an incredibly soothing effect on his child.

Talent for casting shadow figures

There is indeed a blog post simmering, but it was parked for an impromptu trip to the hospital yesterday.

You’ll be glad to hear The Asset is in cracking form and appears to have a startling talent for throwing shadow figures.

Unfortunately, his mother wasn’t performing so well. Nothing major: just some inspecific pains around the midriff that felt like a cross between gas, the onset of nausea, cramps and/or a critical build-up of Hyperactive Imagination. 

An ultrasound showed The Asset is fine; my blood pressure and heartrate is normal; so far there is no explanation as to what’s going on with the belly. Most likely, the discomfort is a result of my uterus trying to perform martial arts after a lifetime hanging around doing nothing more energetic than playing tiddlywinks with my spleen.  However, it came on so fast we decided to check it out.

Wairau Hospital kept me in overnight for observation – not because I had critical organ failure and frothed at the mouth – but more because we live so far out of town.

We have been so impressed with the level of publicly-funded service and care we’ve received at various clinics and hospitals around New Zealand. With the exception of one fertility doctor who spent half an hour persuading me she had no idea how to use a speculum, it has been absolutely outstanding.

Bear with me: there will be a post tomorrow at the latest.

Bonding stratagems

I’m still amazed by what people feel inclined to – let’s call it ‘share’ – when they discover I’m pregnant.

I’ve had the stranger who, after asking how far gone I was, told me she had a miscarriage at that stage. The efficacy of this bonding strategem is limited by one of the parties battling the near-uncontrollable urge to reach into the adjacent deep-freeze, seize a family-size pack of frozen cauliflower and apply it forcefully to her face.

Then there are those who elevate the horror to a whole new level upon finding out you also have a dog, when they remember their sister’s neighbour’s plumber who read an article in an old Woman’s Weekly about a family corgi who gnawed a baby’s face off. The denoument of this variation of story – because I’ve heard at least two versions of it – is dramatic, along the lines of: “No warning- this dog was just the gentlest, most placid- used to bath the kid- but now the baby, IT HAS NO FACE!” 

I’m not sure what appals me more: the poor, faceless baby; the faithful family pet being euthanised; or the gross irresponsibility of parents who a) leave their dog unsupervised with their child and b) haven’t trained their baby not to eat out of the dog’s bowl.

Last week there was the real estate agent who, upon showing us an old-fashioned water burner, felt compelled to inform us how many babies used to fall into them and DIE. Tiny, unformed lives snuffed out in the blink of an eye. Happened all the time, apparently. She knew of at least one soft-boiled baby.

I’m not sure what the appropriate response to these social gambits are. How about, “Thanks for sharing. Sometimes I go into my bathroom and lock the door and cut myself with a sawn-off shampoo bottle. Then I curl up on the floor and cry uncontrollably. Anyway, nice meeting you”? Or, “Oh my, you’re right: that IS an impressive cluster of hemorrhoids. Indeed no, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. GOODBYE”?

In a devastating and frankly brilliant parting shot, she advised me to look up ‘perineal massage’ on Google. I resisted as long as I could but in the end I was macabrely compelled, like being unable to look away from a car crash or videos of tsunamis on YouTube. Here, for the stout of heart and stomach, is a description of perineal massage; there’s a picture; oh my sweet baby cheeses there’s even a video (thankfully featuring no free radical fanny flaps).

Some sites recommend you get your partner to massage your perineum, suggesting it reinforces love and closeness. Well, I don’t need Husband THAT close to feel The Love. In fact, in our relationship the intensity of love is directly proportional to physical distance within an optimal limit (in the region of 100m). Although it might be worth asking Andrew for a perineal massage just for the look on his face – or, more likely, the confusion that would ensue. I might get a nice head rub.

My favourite one came from the man who told me, shortly after my pregnancy was confirmed, about someone he knew whose wife delivered a still-born baby, strangled by the umbilical cord. It’s difficult to imagine anything more personally heartrending; I just about wept when I heard it.

After WTF, you might ask who – I mean to say – WHO – or even WHAT TYPE OF PERSON would tell such a story to a pregnant woman?

Yes, well, that would be MY HUSBAND.

In the name of the recipe, and of the ingredients, and of the oven temperature preferably in Celsius. AMEN

I’ve been nesting.

(NB If nesting includes housework, I’ve been too generously interpretive with the artistic licence again. I’ve never been a keen fan of housework – apart from a fastidious approach to my kitchen. I am known to wipe down my kitchen cupboards on a daily to hourly basis. I also practice an aggressively contemporary approach to laundry.

However, a legion of dust-bunnies would have to be annexing the west wing and most of the south and east before I’d apply a duster. One of the main reasons I married Andrew was because he hoovers VOLUNTARILY ENTIRELY OF HIS OWN VOLITION WITHOUT BEING ASKED.

I know: he is A Treasure. Although Andrew thinks it was due to other attributes/charms, I’m pretty sure the hoovering was why I had to beat other women off with a broken Tequila bottle when I first met him.

It’s probably important to reiterate here that this is the sole expression of Andrew’s feminine side. I would like to remind you he also performs extreme car maintenance and once crumpled a beer can against his forehead.

Where was I? Oh, yes: basking in my own smugness.)

When I say ‘nesting’, I mean I’ve been spending a lot of time baking. Much to my shock, Bunqueen recently gave up her powers – without my even having to threaten her with a broken Tequila bottle – when she lent me her book Ladies, A Plate by Alexa Johnston.

The author is a historian whose hobby is cooking, and the book is a compilation of traditional recipes from community newsletters and old cookbooks. Although most of the recipes have a distinctly Kiwi flavour, many of them were staples of my own childhood (perhaps because my parents lived in Australia when they met): shortbread, pavlovas, pikelets, gingerbread biscuits, rock cakes, queen cakes, sponge sandwiches. The book also includes slaver-inducing recipes for Anzac biscuits, afghans, neemish tarts, cinnamon oysters, miracles and custard squares.

According to NZ Women’s Weekly, many people burst into tears upon opening the book. Which makes me seriously question the mental stability of many antipodean people, so let’s move on.

I embarked on a baking bonanza, making ginger crunch (Husband’s request), shortbread, almond macaroons, miracles, queen cakes and ginger kisses. In fact, I have limited interest in the end result. It’s the batter I snort by the dessert-spoonful; and I also love sitting around gazing adoringly at my ginger kisses.

While in Oamaru, I picked up a Sunbeam Snowy ice-cream machine to replace my old Krups, which was leaking freezer fluid into the bowl (lent a disturbing synthetic overtone to frozen desserts). So we’ve also been enjoying Irish coffee, almond praline, and white chocolate and toasted coconut ice-cream.

In case you think all we eat these days is biscuits and ice-cream, we do occasionally eat potatoes and – what are those things again? – oh yes, vegetables. My culinary crusade also embraces homemade pasta and breads; vegetable chili with sour cream and cheese; garlic bread; hot treacle griddle scones with butter and jam; spicy bean burgers with yoghurt and sweet chili; parsnip and potato mash with parsley sauce; spanakopita; Mediterranean rice with toasted almonds; potato bake; pancakes and/or waffles with chocolate sauce, fresh fruit and yoghurt; fettucini with pesto sauce; homemade baked beans; egg mayo sandwiches with watercress on herby Parmesan bread; and Cajun fries with sour cream.

Despite my being 17 weeks pregnant, Andrew and the dog appear to be the only members of the household putting on weight. Really, it is a mystery how I am even in the vicinity of 60kg, never mind remaining stationery.

Unfortunately, this fresh enthusiasm for all things boiled, baked, grilled, toasted, fried or waffled has suffered a couple of setbacks.

The first is that I’ve been having problems with vegetables. Gangs of turnips roaming around graffiting the garage . . . no, sorry, that’s just my imagination. Normally I’ve nothing against vegetables particularly parsnips and any pregnancy book I’ve read somberly stresses the importance of whangin into spinach. Yet there’s absolutely nothing that makes me crave a packet of salt and vinegar crisps like a broccoli floret.

I try to deflect any potential vegetable deficiencies with soups. Also, I had a carrot last week.

The second is that my brain appears to be broken. I used to be proficient at scaling up or down recipes on the fry, usually making 3/4 or 2/3 portions. These days, dividing by 3 yields at least four different answers. The problem is further exacerbated by somehow scaling all but one key ingredient, such that I end up with about four times too much salt or tabasco.

Conversely, I appear to have increased ability to multi-task – which would be useful if I were ever fully aware what I’m actually doing at any point in time. The other day, I flung two teaspoons of yeast and three tablespoons of flour into the bread machine before I realized I’d forgotten to insert the bowl.

I’ve also managed to refer to the opposite page for cooking instructions, resulting in hamburger buns which were – I’d like to go with ‘crusty’ but regrettably for the sake of accuracy it’ll have to be ‘charred to the consistency of calcified coal’.

Unfortunately I’m not an instinctive cook, investing a sort of religious faith in my cookbooks: ‘In the name of the recipe, and of the ingredients, and of the oven temperature preferably in Celsius. AMEN.’ The oven has to be belching fire and brimstone before I smell a- well, anything at all really.

We might be in danger of burning to the ground – but hey! At least we’re not about to starve.

The Asset

I suppose an account of what’s going on in The Deadly House of Jelly would be in order.

Well, the weather’s been happening. Lots of rain. Spots of sunshine. Wind, that’s fairly common.

So what else?

Right.

Yes.

Let me see.

Oh yes: hey!

Guess what?

I’m pregnant.

In fact, this is the culmination of a long journey. Over the years, it gradually became clear Andrew and I were unable to have children without medical assistance. We were aware that many couples undergo years of fruitless IVF treatment and were prepared for failure – in fact, expected it – yet completely ill-equipped for some degree of success. Although luckier than many, we have experienced some heartbreaking lows along the way.

But I am delighted to report that, at the 13 week scan last week, ‘The Asset’ (working title) appears to be cookin nicely. He’s also an unbelievably handsome foetus. The radiologist actually said, “WOW. That’s possibly the best-looking foetus I have ever seen”.

Ok I admit it: he didn’t. Evidently an oversight or professional negligence.

When we first saw The Asset, he was stretched out full-length, completely laid back, legs crossed, arms behind the head, all “Man, this place is cool,” and wondering how to score some contraband. So there’s no doubt Andrew’s his dad. We’re not sure who the mother is yet – although since he’s so photogenic, there have to be some of my genes in the mix.

Even though The Asset is only about 8cm long, he has little feet! And hands! And fingers! It’s just so reassuring knowing he’ll be able to pick his own nose.

I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt with the slogan:

Crotchfruit gestating

or:

The Asset (with helpful arrow)

or my favourite, as suggested by MarkJ:

Just fucking fat, all right?

Despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, I’m secretly convinced I’m the only person on the planet who ever got sprogged. By the way, if you ever catch me with my hand on my belly looking smug, you have my full permission – no, in fact, I ORDER you – to give me a sound kick up the cervix.

Anyway, that’s probably quite enough about spawning.

In other news: we’re moving house at the end of September.

Relationship, for want of a better word

Just before Christmas, Salmiya invited us to lunch at her house. Salmiya was originally a friend of Andrew’s – she was at the party where we first met – but over the years we lost touch.

Some of this was due to her marriage to Ulf about four years ago. At the time, Salmiya and I were fairly close and she called to break the happy news. I had no idea she was even going out with someone. She had been acquainted with Ulf for roughly three months, give or take a day.

I knew she was bound to marry him regardless of anything I said, so I wished her all the best and pounded a steady percussion on Andrew’s eardrum about ‘what is she THINKING?’ (During these one-sided conversations I often referred to her as ‘the girl’, so there you have an idea how much I disapproved.)

Salmiya took to confiding really rather salient details about her and Ulf’s sex life. I’m not used to discussing length, girth, stamina, flexibility and centiliters, so I found it all very stressful. Going around to their place for a barbie was particularly difficult; it was near impossible to maintain polite conversation while Ulf handed around the sausages.

Occasionally I would complain to Andrew about Salmiya’s X-rating, and he used to say things like, “Look, Niamhie, she’s a nice person.”

As if that closed the matter.

One day I phoned Andrew at work:

“Hi honey, it’s me. Just been chatting with Salmiya and I thought you might like to know, she and Ulf had sex last night. Apparently, he came home from work a bit frisky so he groped her for a while beside the fridge and one thing led to another and they moved on to the bedroom. Then Ulf suffered a spot of – I believe the correct term is ‘erectile dysfunction’ – so Salmiya did a sexy dance for him using the bed post as a prop. They opted for the missionary position, but Salmiya went on top for the grand finale.”

There was silence for a moment, then:

“Why are you telling me this?”

“Well, if I have to put up with it, I really don’t see WHY YOU SHOULDN’T TOO.”

Interestingly, Andrew never exhorted me to call her again. No doubt he was worried about the psychological trauma of subsequent barbeques.

About two years ago, I bumped into Salmiya again. She had broken up with Ulf. It transpired he was an alcoholic, which explained why much of their sex life featured erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing. He had also had numerous affairs DESPITE the erectile dysfunction and sexy dancing.

Thereafter Salmiya and I met up sporadically. One night she mentioned an Aussie bloke she’d met the previous weekend. Seemed he was quite keen, but she was not so sure. He also lived in Oman, so the relationship – for want of a better word – was already emitting acrid smoke and what sounded suspiciously like a fizzle.

A couple of months later, I received a text message from Salmiya which read: ‘Am pregnant with Oman guy’s baby and getting married next month’.

I called her to clarify that it was at least the father of her baby she was marrying. I don’t know whether this helps explain anything whatsoever, but unmarried mothers are not allowed to remain in the UAE.

The girl did not use a condom. Obviously, neither did The Boy – but then he didn’t end up incubating a foetus.

Sorry, do I sound prim?

Well, good for me.

So she married Dave (she learned his name when she went to sign the marriage certificate).

Shortly afterwards, we had a hilarious conversation – well it made me laugh – where Salmiya was talking about purchasing a house in preparation for the arrival of the baby. Dave wanted to go halves with her. She said to me, 

“But I’m not sure. I mean, I hardly know him.”

I said: “Salmiya, you’re MARRIED to The Man.”

So ANYHOW, we were invited around to their place for lunch.

But it wasn’t really that interesting

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